With over 31 million Americans suffering from lower back pain, this persistent ailment is one of the most common health problems plaguing adults in the United States. While some severe cases are the result of a deeper issue, temporary back pain is quite normal and can be reduced or eliminated through proper exercise and postural techniques.
One way I recommend to reduce minor low back pain is through strengthening your core. The core encompasses all of the muscles from your hamstrings up to your neck, from your abdominals to your back muscles. Since all of these muscles work together to support your spine, keeping the core engaged and strong can eliminate minor back , improve posture, and reduce the risk of greater injury down the road.
Yoga and pilates, two very popular forms of exercise, focus on engaging and strengthening core muscles. Yoga works the core muscles methodically through balance, flexibility, and relaxation. The core components of pilates are control, concentration, and centering the body. These are all achieved through engaging core muscles and, over time, building strength that can help reduce minor pain.
Swimming is also a great way to engage your deep core muscles and hit different muscle groups in one workout. Swimming is especially beneficial because the buoyancy of the water reduces pressure on the joints and spinal disks, which is helpful if you suffer from an arthritic joint or bad back.
Whether you’re doing cardio, weight lifting, or CrossFit, remember to engage your minor core muscles whenever possible. The minor core muscles include the glutes, hamstrings, and lats. This will provide you with a more effective workout session and help support the spine better than simply working your abs.
If you can’t make time to hit the gym, staying conscious of your posture throughout the day is still beneficial. If you sit at a desk all day, set a timer to check in every half hour or so to make sure your core is engaged and that you’re sitting with your shoulders back and abs pulled in tight. Consider replacing your chair with a balance ball, which forces you to engage your core while you sit.
Strengthening the core muscles is a powerful way to reduce back pain and get you on track to living a pain free and active life. However, if your pain is severe or chronic, please consult a physician so you can work together to create a proper plan of action.